Let’s Start The Ryan Adams Lynching?
‘He is a bit of a diva!’ once told me an Amoeba employee when Ryan Adams was playing an in-store. And this was summing up my opinion about the famous singer-songwriter, a diva, probably an eccentric and difficult guy, but a serial woman abuser? And a child molester?
The news broke late afternoon in a long New York Times article, claiming that ‘seven women and more than a dozen associates described a pattern of manipulative behavior in which Adams dangled career opportunities while simultaneously pursuing female artists for sex’… Ryan Adams is accused to have emotionally and verbally abused many women, harassing them in texts and on social media, but the most shocking part of the story is Ava, a 14-year-old bass player, whose correspondence with Adams turned into ‘video calls on Skype where Adams exposed himself during phone sex’. According to the 3,217 text messages reviewed by the Times, Adams seemed to be aware of Ava’s young age, despite what his lawyer is now declaring, and that’s a completely different story than the allegations concerning the other women.
To me, it doesn’t come as a surprise that Ryan Adams is a manipulative egocentric, controlling, narcissistic asshole, I never called him a genius, but thought he had talent, and all the previous adjectives often come with talent, especially when artists reach a certain level of success. Far from excusing Ryan Adams for his awful behavior, I would say this type of behavior is commonplace.
Then there are the women, and among them 20-year-old Phoebe Bridgers who certainly approached Adams for a reason: ‘It seemed like he had the power to propel people forward,’ she admits in the NY Times article, and if the promise of a music career was the lure, were all these women that naïve?
I don’t doubt Ryan Adams did all this, I have no doubt his patronage was a good excuse to have sex with all these women before emotionally abusing them – although there’s a lot of phone sex in the article, and he never met Ava to be completely fair. What he did was totally wrong, but except for Ava who was way too young to have a good judgment of the situation, these women were first interested by the possibility of a music career, and they were ready to use their relationship with him to launch it. Can we still see both sides in this #metoo age? Can we still see that there also was an agenda coming from these women even though Ryan Adams appears to be a manipulative jerk? Phoebe built her success on a song about Adams, and look at her, just a few months ago, talking about her favorite Ryan Adams album… she did not seem too angry there. She also had this to say about Ryan Adams in this 2018 Telegraph interview: ‘She wrote Motion Sickness after they broke up. What did he think of it? “We were back on good terms by then but after I sent him the song he didn’t talk to me for 24 hours. Then he sent me a sweet text saying ‘it’s a great song’,” she says. “Yes, interesting character…”
I would certainly not use these words to describe someone who has been a terrible abuser, and if I have no doubt Adams is this typical insecure egocentric character, the manipulation was certainly not one-sided, as things are never black and white. But we are in 2019, at the rage of the #metoo movement and, for the moment, Ryan Adams’ career is dead, people want him out, and Phoebe Bridgers, Mandy Moore are the heroes of the day.
Adams will probably cancel his upcoming tour in Europe? Or will he recover? I can’t tell. But let’s keep a few things in mind before you remove your cold roses tattoo and before the lynch mob shoots the fallen hero: it’s just bad luck for Ryan Adams that he was born during a time when iPhones and social media rule, if he had been born during David Bowie and Jimmy Page times, he could have had phone sex with a few teenagers and still be regarded as a half god.